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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

32                               THE GAY GENIUS

with rare exceptions, still on the basis oŁ sexual selection designed by
nature, while women attract, but do not select, on the same basis. They
make more of an attempt to approach an intelligent choice, and this
alone prevents a modern marriage from completely resembling the
amorous mating of animals. The advantages of the system of arrange-
ment by parents are merely that it is simpler, more efficient, less waste-
ful of time, and allows a much greater freedom and wider range of
choice. All marriages are contracted in heaven but made on earth and
by the men and women who have to make it after they come away
from the altar.

Soon after the younger son's marriage, therefore, the brothers and
father set out for the capital. They had first to go to Chengtu, the
capital of the province, where they came into contact with Chang
Fangping, a very high official who later was almost like a father to
Su Tungpo. Their father also hoped to obtain a position of some kind.
He was now about forty-seven, but he had worked hard since his return
after his failure at the examinations. In that period he had produced
an. important work on the principles of government, war, and peace,
showing great depth and originality, which should bring him the atten-
tion and respect of the scholars at the capital. There were at the time
possible channels for one to receive an office on special recommendation
of some high minister of state. He submitted his works to Chang
Fangping, who thought very highly of them and was ready to appoint
him a teacher at the district college of Chengtu. But Su senior was not
content with a "mere post as a college teacher'*. Eventually, overcome
by his enthusiasm, Chang was persuaded to write a letter of intro-
duction to Ouyang Shiu, the first writer of the land, although he was
not on very good terms with him. Another friend, by the name of Lei,
also wrote a letter of introduction, speaking of the eldest Su as having
the "talent of a counsellor of kings". Armed with these letters to
Ouyang Shiu and Mei Yaochen, the father and sons went up to the
capital by a land journey of over two months, passing through the high
mountain ranges of northern Szechuen and Shensi.

In May of 1056 the three Sus arrived at the capital and put up at a
Buddhist temple, awaiting the tests that were to come in the autumn.
These were the preliminary tests given by the ministry of education
selecting candidates for the spring examinations to be held under the
personal supervision of the emperor. Of 'the forty-five candidates from
Meichow, both brothers were among the successful thirteen. Having
nothing more to do than to wait for the palace examinations in spring,
the father and sons stayed to look over the city and get an introduction
to society. Su Shun now submitted his works to Ouyang Shiu, the
highly respected and loved leader of the scholar class. The genial-
manjiered Ouyang Shiu had unusually white long ears and a short